It’s a fairly quiet week in the world of DVD releases, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some quality titles hitting shelves. Two fantastic films arrive today, and while they barely made a ripple at the box office that doesn’t mean they’re not worth your time. Other movies out today include the wonderfully suspenseful Julia’s Eyes, the ridiculously overrated Midnight In Paris, the just plain ridiculous Columbiana and more.
As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.
Two men, one a high school teacher with a family (Joel Edgerton) and the other an ex-Marine hero (Tom Hardy), find themselves on different paths to the same goal: winning a high-profile MMA tournament and the large cash prize that goes with it. The story moves back and forth between the men and their situations until they finally merge together in the ring. Sports stories in general aren’t really my thing, but I do enjoy a tale well told. Director Gavin O’Connor and his two leads (as well as supporting player Nick Nolte) fill the film with heart, great character and honest suspense. Most surprising of all, both men have an equal shot at victory and viewers will be thrilled and satisfied whichever way it ends. Lots of fantastic films were missed by audiences by year, but this is one underdog that deserves a second shot at victory. Check out Robert Levin’s full review.
Pitch: Spanish remake of the Mexican thriller, Jose’s Cojones…
Why Buy? A woman suffering from degenerative eyesight is taunted either by madness or a madman, and when she winds up dead her sister comes to town to set her house in order. Unfortunately sis suffers from the same illness, and as her sight begins to go the terrors begin to increase. This Spanish thriller executive produced by Guillermo del Toro is a stylish and at times terrifying movie that milks scares from an already frightening situation. It suffers a bit when it comes to the resolution, but it’s a fantastic watch for genre fans all the same. Del Toro’s name is bandied about quite a bit, but the lesson here seems to be that while his US productions don’t always pay off (ahem Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark ahem) his overseas ones are pretty damn solid. Check out my full review.
Pitch: Anyone remember the financial meltdown from a few years back? No? No one? I wonder if these white guys in suits know anything about it…
Why Buy? This fact-based look at an investment firm’s actions in the 24 hours leading up to 2008’s financial crisis sounds like a bore and/or a chore, but instead it manages to be at turns thrilling, darkly comic, upsetting, affecting and surprising. The film consists almost entirely of dialogue, but even as it deals with complicated financial issues and numbers it never becomes dry or confusing. The all-star cast certainly helps as well including Kevin Spacey, Zachary Quinto, Simon Baker, Stanley Tucci, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons and more. It’s a fascinating watch, and it serves as a warning for the future by way of an explanation of the present.
Pitch: Speaking of westerns, when is Kevin Costner going to make another one? Seriously, Open Range is a solid flick…
Why Rent? Decades after Butch Cassidy (Sam Shepard) was supposedly killed in a Bolivian shootout he decides it’s time to leave his false life in South America and head back to the States to see his nephew. But once a gunfighter skirting the law for monetary gain and moral superiority always a gunfighter skirting the law for monetary gain and moral superiority. Maybe not, but he does run into trouble and soon he finds his peaceful retirement interrupted by gunfights, treachery, and Stephen Rea. There isn’t a lot of action to be found here, but there’s enough of it combined with a strong performance from Shepard to warrant a viewing.
Pitch: See the sequel to The Professional that never was…
Why Rent? A young woman (Zoe Saldana) works her way through a list of baddies associated with her parents’ murder when she was a child, but her quest comes to a close as she nears the main villain. Things get out of hand when she lets her vision get clouded by love. Aww. This is actually a reworking of Luc Besson’s abandoned script for a Leon sequel (although my suggestion from a couple years ago is still a much better idea), and while the elements are there it bears none of that film’s heart or honesty. It is goofy as hell though with action sequences that go beyond ludicrous, a heroine that annoys more than she engages and a love story that falls flatter than Milla Jovavich. Still, fans of stupid action (me included) will find some minor enjoyment here. Check out Neil Miller’s full review.
Pitch: Co-stars Léa Seydoux, so there’s that…
Why Rent? A hack screenwriter (Owen Wilson) who feels that he’s given up on his dream of writing novels finds himself in Paris with his constantly bitchy fiance and her even bitchier parents. While the dullard’s days are spent trapped with his terrible, soon-to-be in-laws he takes strolls through the city late at night and discovers a magical entrance into a literary yesteryear. Soon he’s hobnobbing with F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and others, and he may have even found what real love feels like. Woody Allen’s biggest box-office hit is also his most critically acclaimed film in years, but it’s also wildly overrated. The film finds some fun moments with the long dead writers, but every minute spent away from that mystical realm grates on the nerves. Check out Simon Gallagher’s full review.
Pitch: In case of rape and/Southern “hospitality” please bypass Straw and Stick and go directly to Brick Dogs…
Why Avoid? A well to do couple (James Marsden and Kate Bosworth) return to her small hometown down south and encounter trouble with the locals when she flashes a group of inebriated horndogs and he shelters a mentally challenged murderer. Reading that over the movie sure does sound more interesting than it actually is. This remake of Sam Peckinpah’s well known original doesn’t bother offering anything new and instead sets up a basic rape/revenge tale with no style or personality of its own. And while the sexual politics of it all may have worked in 1971 they don’t work here. Director Rod Lurie should know better. Skip it and watch The Contender instead.
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:
Beware of Christians
Burke & Hare
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?